Three-Dimensional Orbits of Earth Satellites, Including Effects of Earth Oblateness and Atmospheric Rotation
Publication date 1958-12-01
Usage Public Domain
The principal purpose of the present paper is to present sets of equations which may be used for calculating complete trajectories of earth satellites from outer space to the ground under the influence of air drag and gravity, including oblateness effects, and to apply these to several examples of entry trajectories starting from a circular orbit. Equations of motion, based on an ''instantaneous ellipse'' technique, with polar angle as independent variable, were found suitable for automatic computation of orbits in which the trajectory consists of a number of revolutions. This method is suitable as long as the trajectory does not become nearly vertical. In the terminal phase of the trajectories, which are nearly vertical, equations of motion in spherical polar coordinates with time as the independent variable were found to be more suitable. In the first illustrative example the effects of the oblateness component of the earth's gravitational field and of atmospheric rotation were studied for equatorial orbits. The satellites were launched into circular orbits at a height of 120 miles, an altitude sufficiently high that a number of revolutions could be studied. The importance of the oblateness component of the earth's gravitational field is shown by the fact that a satellite launched at circular orbital speed, neglecting oblateness, has a perigee some 67,000 feet lower when oblateness forces are included in the equations of motion than when they are not included. Also, the loss in altitude per revolution is double that of a satellite following an orbit not subject to oblateness. The effect of atmospheric rotation on the loss of altitude per revolution was small. As might be surmised, the regression of the line of nodes as predicted by celestial mechanics is unchanged when drag is included. It is clear that the inclination of the orbital plane to the equator will be relatively unaffected by drag for no atmospheric rotation since the drag lies in the orbital plane in this case. With the inclusion of atmospheric rotation it was found that the inclination of the plane changed about one-millionth of a radian per revolution. Thus the prediction of the position of the orbital plane of an earth satellite is not complicated by the introduction of drag. The line of apsides, which without drag but with oblateness moves slowly in space, tends to move with the satellite when drag is included in the calculations. As a results, the usual linearized solutions based on oblateness alone must be basically altered when drag is included to take into account the rapid movement of the line of apsides. In the second illustrative example the final revolution was calculated to impact for a number of trajectories in an orbital plane inclined at 650 to the equator. Of particular interest is the large effect the oblateness gravitational field and atmospheric rotation can have on the impact point. For a value of CDA/m of unity, and for an initial downward angle at 80 miles altitude of 0.01 radian, such as might be utilized for manned re-entry, oblateness had an influence of about 300 miles in the impact point, and atmospheric rotation had about a 150-mile influence.
Nasa-centerAmes Research Center
OcrABBYY FineReader 8.0
Original-nasa-rightsUnclassified; No Copyright; Unlimited; Publicly available;
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